UNMC included in med center's vaccine allocation process

by Karen Burbach, UNMC strategic communications | January 05, 2021

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Imagine being told you -- and all of your colleagues at UNMC and Nebraska Medicine -- are going to Hawaii. Knowing the plane has limited capacity, some will be on the first flight; others will depart hours, days or weeks later. In the end, everyone will get to Hawaii.

Now, liken that to distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Everyone employed by UNMC and Nebraska Medicine has been included in its vaccination prioritization planning process, and, over time, will have the opportunity to receive the vaccine. This includes all UNMC students with the exception of those whose curriculum is fully online or those who are not in a formal degree-seeking program.

In planning for the distribution of vaccine, the med center followed U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and developed a vaccine allocation matrix based on near-term risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the context of caring for, or having consistent close interactions with patients. The matrix contains the following three levels (subsections exist within each level):

  • Level one - those providing care/testing/services to persons with COVID-19
  • Level two - those providing care/testing/services for non-COVID-19 patients
  • Level three - those colleagues that do not interact with patients

While the vaccine is not mandatory, the entire workforce at UNMC and Nebraska Medicine has been placed individually and by name into this tiered schedule and campus leaders are reviewing these lists for accuracy. This includes students in all colleges and across all campus locations (with the exception noted earlier). Questions about your assigned level should be directed to your department administrative leadership.

It is unknown how long it will take to move through each level, and progress is dependent on the amount of vaccine received; however, scheduling for those assigned to levels one and two has been initiated but is not yet complete. Over the subsequent days to weeks, faculty, students and staff will be contacted via email with instructions on how to schedule an appointment to receive the vaccine provided there is adequate supply. Each individual will be asked to answer a series of simple questions in the Health Tracking System prior to making an appointment. These processes may be adjusted for individuals on UNMC campuses outside of Omaha.

Important items of note:

  • The medical center is not using employee health information as part of the classification, so if individuals have had COVID-19 or have a condition that puts them at higher risk for contracting COVID-19 or having severe disease, these considerations were not factored into the matrix.
  • Leaders are being asked to schedule their teams in a staggered fashion in order to minimize any impact on staffing/operations should they experience any side effects (e.g., malaise, fatigue, fever) from receiving the vaccine. For example, the entire emergency department would not be vaccinated on a given day in order to ensure adequate staffing in the event that colleagues experience an adverse reaction.
  • Demand for the vaccine will exceed supply for the near future; however, the medical center anticipates regular shipments of vaccines over the coming weeks and months.
  • Vaccinations will be tracked and documented in the Health Tracking System as is done with influenza and tuberculosis tracking.
  • There is no timeline yet for when a vaccine would be available to the general public, though it could be several months.
  • Even after receiving the vaccine, all personnel must continue to wear masks, avoid crowds, social distance, wash hands and follow outlined policies and procedures.
  • Both the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna vaccine require two doses. Pfizer's is separated by 21 days; Moderna, 28 days. Individuals will need to receive both doses from the same manufacturer; they cannot be mixed.

For more information, refer to FAQs for colleagues (accessible to the UNMC/Nebraska Medicine community), as well a public list of FAQs on NebraskaMed.com and the UNMC's coronavirus website.

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UNMC Today Editor
January 08, 2021 at 10:42 AM

Emeritus faculty should approach their department chair or other administrative leader to inquire about the possibility of acquiring the vaccine through the Nebraska Medicine/UNMC supply. The same criteria used to prioritize all faculty, staff and students will be applied to these faculty as well.

Mary Helms
January 05, 2021 at 2:04 PM

Are Emeritus faculty considered tier 3?